“And I keep telling you there is nothing to do here,” Severus grumbled, making his way through the weed-covered path to the front door, twined all over with ivy and creepers.
“And I have told you and still do that you are wrong,” Lucius retorted. “It’s a gorgeous place. A strong one. I can feel it even now, even though the blood magic is dormant.”
Severus cringed, but did not say anything.
The modest Prince estate, consisting of an unremarkable Georgian house on the outskirts of Brushford, Somerset, with a tiny park and even tinier pond, did not ever become a home for him, even though he rather liked the place itself. Some quite unhappy memories were associated with it, however, and after his grandfather’s death and the execution of the old man’s bequest Severus never visited his new property. He diligently paid taxes that consumed a sizeable portion of his professor salary, but it has been the only thing connecting the descendant of the prodigal daughter Eileen Prince with this family seat for a long time. And now Lucius, who started preparing for the inevitable war in earnest, seeking all possible resources, stirred Severus up and forced him to return to his grandfather’s house — despite his reluctance.
The path to the front door was overgrown with dandelions and goosefoot; prickly thistle was rearing its head here and there; roses grew above human height; hedge was so overgrown with blackberry that it was impossible to make out what that hedge originally consisted of, privet or hawthorn. Lucius shook his head.
“My house elves will jinx you,” he commented. “How could you let the property be reduced to such a state? I can only imagine what’s inside.”
Severus looked at him in surprise.
“What do your elves have to do with anything? I have my own.”
Lucius cast a tell-tale eye around the exuberant underbrush.
“Ah, that.” Severus waved a hand. “Just ignore it. Last time I was here I… overreacted a little. I expressly forbade them to change anything in the garden and to bother me with idiotic questions.”
“I hope you didn’t forbid them to tend to the house. Will we have to urgently repair the roof?”
“I don’t think so.”
Severus’s cloak caught on yet another huge thistle bush, he swore, took out his wand and obliterated the vicious plant, then determinately headed for the front door of the house. Lucius snorted and followed him, trying to evade the lushest burrs.
The heavy door was made of oak, its carved panels depicting four village festivals corresponding with different seasons. A Samhain bonfire was burning on the top right panel; Severus put the palm of his hand to it, intending to whisper a ritual phrase that allowed him to enter the house. He tried very hard to keep his face unreadable, but it seemed Lucius noticed something in his expression because he immediately asked, “Actually, I have been meaning to ask... Why aren’t you a Prince?”
Severus winced and did not reply. His pushy friend refused to be ignored, however.
“You did get your inheritance, didn’t you? Did your grandfather refuse to give you the full rights?”
“Do you really have to know?” Severus sighed.
Lucius looked at him long and hard.
“Of course not. It’d be helpful, though. For many reasons, not the least of them being the fact that we are contemplating to use your estate as a temporary hiding place. The bequest has a special clause. Am I correct?”
Severus looked away.
“Let’s assume it does. It does not matter. I have no idea how I could fulfil that clause anyway.”
“It only means you don’t have enough imagination, that’s all,” Lucius replied mischievously. “I will know everything about it anyway. Copies of such documents are kept in the Ministry archives. Trust me, I have ways of acquiring information I need when I put my mind to it. So, spill it.”
“It’s really nothing.” Severus sighed again. Long time ago, when his grandfather showed him the bequest, he was livid, taking it as mockery. Later, after 1981, his anger turned to grief, and wallowing in it, he had no wish even to talk to his grandfather till the latter’s death. And then it was too late to change anything.
“And yet?” Lucius suddenly narrowed his eyes. “The clause concerns your marriage, doesn’t it?”
“The clause is actually quite common.” He shrugged. “To be reinstated as a Prince, I must marry a girl from a pureblood family in at least five generations. If I fulfil the terms yet refuse to return to the Prince family, I have the right to introduce my heir into it.”
“I see.” Lucius’ face showed compassion, but he, thank Merlin, tactfully restrained himself from further questions.
“It doesn’t change much,” Severus continued. “I can’t return to the family, I can’t use some family artefacts, I can’t activate or tweak the blood magic defences in this estate, but considering that I don’t have any living relatives, it doesn’t really matter.”
“Hmm,” Lucius eyed him musingly. “What artefacts are those?”
Severus allowed himself a smirk.
“You know, cutting mistletoe exclusively with a sacred ritual sickle of the Princes is not that much of a pleasure to make me willing to marry any random pureblood girl. Apart from that, there is absolutely nothing of interest.”
“Can we enter then?”
Severus nodded, covered the panel with his palm again and whispered, “Severus Septimius Snape, the son of Eileen, daughter of the Princes, is returning home.”
The door opened without a sound, turning smoothly on well-oiled hinges.
“Welcome home, Severus,” he muttered under his breath, feeling Lucius’ wry stare on the back of his neck (Lucius, fortunately, refrained from comments). “You can enter, too.”
* * *
Since the first days of July, Draco has been going through the Malfoy manor with a proverbial fine-toothed comb, unsuccessfully searching for the Philosopher’s Stone.
After some careful watching his parents and godfather and some skilful eavesdropping he quickly arrived to the conclusion that Nicolas Flamel had returned the Stone that was sent to him, and then the adults decided to keep him and Harry out of the loop, of course. Draco did not blame them; he would have probably done the same. Just as quickly he concluded that trying to discuss the situation was not worth it. After all, as long as no one knew he was searching for something no one could forbid him anything.
He did not tell Harry anything either, and it was a much harder decision to make. He did not like to hide anything from his brother, but Harry would have probably sided with their parents, so Draco decided to confront him with the fact when he would find the Stone. If he would find it.
It was difficult to search the house without attracting attention, and he did not have much free time for his explorations, too. After the Midsummer celebrations they had to pay respects to Petunia Evans on the occasion of Dudley’s birthday. The poor Muggle cousin of Harry’s was facing the prospect of transferring to a French college of St. Samson, and the only thing he could think and talk about was his impending exams and the daunting prospect of studying in Brittany. In a word, it was a terribly tedious visit, Draco almost dislocated his jaw, trying to stifle his yawns.
Then Lucius took it upon himself to teach them some combat magic which delighted Draco very much, of course. However, these lessons, Quidditch practice, horseback riding and trips to the seashore when the weather allowed that made it almost impossible to be alone for any extended periods of time. Finally, in the beginning of August the circumstances changed in his favour: cousin Constance arrived to Malfoy Manor.
Constance turned seventeen that winter, and now, being of age, she could explore Britain by herself, if not for one slight hitch: being a squib, she often needed a wizard’s help navigating the Wizarding world. On the other hand, she was interested in Muggle sightseeing attractions as well as in Wizarding ones. Of the entire household, Severus was declared the one with the most experience with Muggle London, so he reluctantly took up the role of the guide, and started escorting the French cousin of the Malfoys through Muggle museums, art galleries and other boring non-Wizarding places. Harry went with them often, Narcissa — almost always, and sometimes even Lucius was not against accompanying them. No one pressured anyone into anything, so Draco got enough opportunities to stay at the manor alone (not counting the house elves, of course, but who pays attention to them anyway? — and Archer who was never known to pry into affairs of others).
The first several raids turned out fruitless. Draco could not open main secret places of the house, of course (the big vault under the drawing room, for example, or their father’s strongbox in his study). He was absolutely sure, though, that the Stone was not there. Aurors could politely ‘ask’ to open the strongbox at any moment if any new ‘misunderstanding’ occurred, like that incident when Severus and Headmaster Dumbledore were called to London. Opening the vault was a tedious and tiring process, and the Stone should be kept in a place with easy access. Maybe even a non-magical one. That was why Draco divided the house into quadrants and explored them one by one, trying not to think that Lucius could, for example, bury the Stone somewhere in the garden or hide it somewhere else, away from the Malfoy estate. Such a boring explanation did not deserve attention until it turned out to be the only possibility left, after all.
Another chance came up when Narcissa and Harry decided to show Constance the Hanging Stones of Amesbury while Lucius and Severus left on some mysterious business they had said nothing about. Any other time, Draco would have burst with curiosity, but now he had enough secrets of his own. He got almost the entire day to himself, and he chose the library as his new search site.
It was huge, of course, but fortunately, Draco had enough time to explore a significant part of it even before going to Hogwarts. He naturally could not boast that he had read all the books, but he had seen many of them and remembered well which ones were where. Also, logic suggested that no reasonable man would hide anything on shelves he and Harry explored regularly.
Besides that, he reckoned that the locked bookcase with the most dubious books, carefully spelled against curious children, could be excluded, too. It contained not quite politically approved, but not forbidden books covering the Dark Arts, dangerous substances and potions, and other restricted subjects. Should the Ministry want to ask Lucius any questions, the Aurors would rummage that one first. So, only a complete fool would hide anything there.
Therefore, one should inspect the bookcases with the most boring or simply outdated books, newspaper files and catalogues dating from the 18th century, and other similar rubbish. Draco sighed and set to work.
Three hours later, he sat on the floor in the ‘card-playing corner’ and heaved a disappointed sigh. The Stone was nowhere to be seen; he had meticulously gone through all the unfamiliar shelves, taking out the contents, feeling and tapping the back of every bookcase — what if there was a hiding place? Alas, all was for naught.
Scratching his head, Draco began to ponder over the situation. Would it be reasonable to check ‘familiar’ bookcases too? Was he just doing it wrong? Trying to save time, he did not leaf through every book, concentrating on finding something between or behind them — for example, a box disguised to look like a book, or something like that. The Stone was not a parchment, after all, so it could not be hidden inside a book. Or could it?
He vaguely recalled Granger once saying something peculiar when she tried to explain why Muggles loved books about fictional crimes, during one of her ever-going lectures. Characters in those crime-stories were Muggles, of course, and not wizards, but that was the idea. Lucius, unlike many other pureblood wizards, did not have an aversion to Muggle fiction. He could invent a hiding place that no wizard even thought to look for…
Draco tried to remember the size of the Stone, made some quick calculations in his mind, sighed, and then determinately started checking all the books thick enough to cut a hole of appropriate size where the Stone could fit.
In an hour, he found the notebook.
It was rather small, like a pocket diary, it had a black leather cover and completely blank pages. Overall, it looked very Muggle.
If not for the fact that it was hidden on purpose, Draco would have probably paid no attention to it. However, Lucius would have not hidden anything for no reason, that’s for one thing. For another, after looking at it closely, Draco realized that the cover of this strange thing seemed to be new, even though it also looked rather old-fashioned, compared to, say, Dudley Dursley’s notebooks. New as if it had just been brought from a stationary shop and stuck into The Vocabulary of Alchemical Terms by Hieronymus the Hibernian who Passed at the St. Mary Bethlehem Hospital in the Year of 1673 A.D. (the book was so decrepit that only careful handling and special Library Charms kept it in one piece).
Years later, recalling this incident (only with his closest friends and family who already knew more about him than he was comfortable with), Draco liked to say that he had been ensnared from the start, blaming the deadly pull of the Dark Magic. He said that as soon as he picked up the notebook, he almost immediately lost the ability to assess his actions and their consequences intelligently — and so, that was why he behaved like a complete fool. The actual truth, though, was much more complicated and much worse.
In fact, Draco was completely aware that he was doing something rather stupid and quite dangerous. That, alas, increased the temptation. Granger later loved to call such mood of his ‘the imp of the perverse’ — it was a stupid Muggle phrase because any wizard knew that imps did not exist, unlike pixies, for example.
The truth was Draco was fed up with looking for the Stone yet refused to admit even to himself that he was sick of this fruitless search. Also, his vexation and annoyance at his parents and godfather, as well as oh-so-sensible Harry, prompted Draco to do something outrageous.
That was why he decided to study the notebook instead of returning it to its place. He returned to his room — after carefully putting all the books back and taking the Natural History of Snakes and Dragons by Ulisse Aldrovandi, in case anyone got interested in his long presence in the library.
* * *
Lucius followed Severus into a spacious, but gloomy hall and looked around, intrigued. He had pretty much no expectations, and he was not disappointed. Walls were covered by oak panels; pictures with scenes from lives of Merlin and Morgause hung on the walls between false columns shaped like pillars entwined with vine. The dim light of the magical lamps, throwing faint shadows on the flagstones, made the room resemble a cave. However, the wood of the panels was well-polished, and the floor looked like it was regularly cleaned. Even the most demanding visitor would not find a single speck of dust anywhere. Distracted by this examination of the interior, Lucius missed the moment when a new character appeared noiselessly in the hall.
“Master Severus has not been home for a long time,” said a cracked disapproving voice. Lucius turned and stared curiously at its owner.
It was a rather elderly house elf who carried himself with indescribable dignity. He was dressed in a white tea tower with a green hem wearing this non-garment like a Roman toga. That, combined with grim expression on the creature’s wrinkled face, made him look almost menacing.
“Not that long,” Severus grumbled. “Seven years at most.”
“Eight,” the house elf corrected him dryly. “One day, Master could have found poor Bartholomew dead and buried.”
“Poor Bartholomew will outlive my grandchildren if there are ever any,” Severus retorted. Lucius watched this strange exchange with increasing amazement.
“I doubt it,” the house elf croaked. “Master does not know what…”
Severus cut him short.
“Bartholomew, would you kindly refrain from listing all of your misfortunes and ailments of the members of the household till another time. I want…”
“Members of your household have no ailments!” the house elf flared.
“And stop interrupting me!” Severus snapped. Bartholomew finally kept his mouth shut and simply stared at his master. “For your information, I am here on business, and we do not have much time. Now, remember: this is Lucius Malfoy.” Severus waved a hand at his guest, and suddenly Lucius ended up on the receiving end of a hard and detached stare of poor Bartholomew. The house elf examined him as if speculating whether he should allow this visitor into the rooms or throw him out right now.
“I remember,” he said at last.
“He can come and leave the house as he wishes and give you orders — inasmuch as it does not contradict my own instructions. Later, I shall bring here other family members. Do you have any questions?”
“No,” he said after a pause. “I think not. I would like, though…”
“…to consult me on certain financial and business affairs,” Severus finished impatiently. (“Now I know,” Lucius thought with a smirk, “where that house elf picked up the habit of interrupting”.) “I’m sorry, but today I have no time for it. Then again, from now on, I plan to come here often. I promise that in the nearest couple of weeks I shall come here for the sole purpose of listening to everything you have to say. Will that suffice?”
Bartholomew made a wry face but nodded.
“I will be waiting… sir.”
“And now serve us some brandy in the drawing room and do not bother me today anymore,” Severus ordered.
The house elf made a small movement that with some imagination could be taken for a bow and disappeared without a sound.
Lucius turned to his friend.
“What is this wonder of nature, may I ask?” he inquired.
Severus’s lips curled up.
“Oh, it is one of the Princes’ heirlooms in a manner of speaking. Our house elves are unlike any other, no matter how many I have encountered. Even Hogwarts elves, who have been serving not a family, but a school for centuries, are not that independent. According to a family legend, Gwenhilde Prince, one of the first witches in the family, had a great deal of talent for magic and was very passionate about alchemy, but, alas, was also completely mad. She did not have any scruples about experimenting on living beings, starting with her own kin and ending with house elves. Fortunately for her descendants, she tested any potions meant for humans on herself first, and that was why when at last she made a deadly mistake in a new formula, she poisoned herself and not someone else. It must be said, however, that for years after that many strange creatures roamed our country estate, and to this day, the Princes’ house elves are notable for their admirable longevity, extraordinary intelligence and ill temper.”
“What about the toga?” Lucius asked.
“Oh, that is the work of Gwenhilde’s grandson, Eugene. He turned out to be so conceited that the combination of his first and last name made him go mad, and he taught his house elves to wrap tea towels in the manner of Romans. They liked it so much that have not been willing to wear tunics made of napkins or sweaters made of kettle warmers ever since.” Severus waved a hand, inviting Lucius to follow him. “Let’s go. Bartholomew has probably served us brandy. By the way, when you give him orders later, do not even think about shortening his name. No Barts or, Merlin forbid, Barties. Otherwise, he will still follow your order to the letter, of course, but in such a way that you would regret ever giving it. Were he not a butler, he would have made a decent solicitor, I swear.”
Lucius wanted to make a quip but did not have time for it, because they finally left the hall and entered the drawing room. Its appearance astounded him so much that he forgot any jokes entirely.
This spacious, but dimly lit room reminded him of a bazaar, Ali Baba’s den, Al Rasheed’s harem and a palace of some sybaritic Indian rajah at the same time; there were huge soft sofas of unbelievable colours, plush curtains and draperies with tassels and a small Eastern-style lacquered table. Along the walls, there were glass cabinets full of small bright boxes, gaudy tin cans and bottles of all forms and sizes, decorated with fake jewels and golden leaf. A huge chandelier with coloured glass pendants was hanging from the ceiling… Startled, Lucius looked closer at the vibrant-coloured thing and thought with amazement that maybe it was not glass. The centrepiece of all this flashy splendour was a huge gilded cobra that stood four feet high with its hood billowing in the middle of a florid oriental carpet. The head of this monster was topped with a crown adorned with a gigantic ruby, unbelievably fake by the looks of it. In addition to all this, the room smelt of rose and clove oil, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and… chocolate?
Stunned, Lucius stared at Severus who was unabashedly making fun of him without saying a word.
“Merlin gracious… What is this place?”
“Do you not recognize it?” Severus squinted. “Look closer.”
Puzzled, Lucius looked one more time at the gilded monster in the middle of the carpet. He examined the room again, glancing over numerous boxes and bottles. Now they did seem vaguely familiar. He looked even closer and gasped.
Every box, every tin can and glass cabinet — and even some draperies — had the same symbol on them, the same rising cobra with a billowing hood and a shiny ruby over its head. Only now it dawned on him what he was seeing.
“Are you saying that The King Cobra are the Princes?!”
* * *
The small black notebook turned out to be a terribly strange thing.
Everything written in it quickly faded and disappeared as if oozing through the pages to a place unknown. Seized by an investigative ardour, Draco tried in turns using quill and ink, then magical colouring pencils and even oil paint. The damned notebook absorbed all of it better than any sponge.
He tried writing letters, tried spells revealing secrets, and in the end even tried to do sums on the empty pages, with the same results.
Finally, when he got tired of inventing ways to make the notebook give up its secrets, Draco started absentmindedly writing patterns and watching it all disappear.
Hello, he wrote at some point, adding a pretty flourish to the H.
Now the word did not fade.
Draco watched, frozen with horror, as below his line new letters appeared, one after another.
H… E… L… L… O.
* * *
“It took you long enough,” Severus chuckled, offering his friend a tumbler of brandy. They sat on the least soft sofa that allowed one to keep more or less vertical position instead of languishing on pillows.
“Oh, I say! I was not expecting that,” Lucius acknowledged, looking over this den of an insane confectioner-sybarite again. In the days of his childhood, The King Cobra sold the best chocolate in the Wizarding Britain, and then, suddenly, in the beginning of the Dark Lord’s first rise, the famous shop closed overnight. “There was so much talk about who was the owner! The Prophet, I think, even tried to announce a contest, but they got nowhere with it, as it was impossible to name the winner because the owner of the business wished to preserve their incognito. It was your grandfather, wasn’t it? But why… Wait, everyone assumed that the owners of The King Cobra, whoever they were, died! That they were killed in one the raids.” Suddenly he became slightly embarrassed. “I almost quarrelled with my father because of it, you know. Those were my favourite chocolates!”
It was Severus’s turn to be astonished.
“You were ready to quarrel with your father because of sweets? With Abraxas Malfoy? One of the Knights of Walpurgis?”
“I was just fifteen at the time,” Lucius’s lips twisted haughtily, then he gave up and snorted, awkward and still a little embarrassed. “And I had a terrible sweet tooth. Father assured me, though, that the Dark Lord had nothing to do with it and that the owners of the Cobra were probably pureblood foreigners who closed their business in this horrible country, infested by Muggle lovers. With that, I could not argue, if you know what I mean…” He looked the room over again. “And it had been your grandfather all along…”
“I barely knew him. Come to think of it, I was born because of these chocolates.”
Lucius raised his eyebrows. Severus smiled crookedly.
“My grandfather was a typical thick-skulled conservative squire, and as such, he bitterly regretted not having a son who could inherit his precious enterprise. Alas, he and grandmother had only a daughter… That was why grandfather set his sights on marrying her off to an heir of some Indian confectioner, chef or some such. Long story short, he dug up a younger son of some pureblood parents who was ready to change his last name to Prince and take charge of the family business. However, my mommy dearest had her own plans, as she eloped. You see, she detested sweets.”
“Who did she elope with?”
“With the first available artist who came here to sketch.” Severus made a face. “With a Muggle, as you are well aware. My father, as far as I remember, ‘had a promising future’ till his very death, but, alas, ‘the despicable British public of narrow-minded shopkeepers’ showed no appreciation for his unique talent. His pathetic daubery earned him no money, and my mother was too proud to return to her parents’ house even when her married life went sour. Who knows, though,” he shook his head pensively, “maybe they liked it. At least, when I was a child, I always had the impression that father and she yelled at each other with earnest sincere pleasure. One way or another, if things were different, I could have been a pureblood offspring of a mild-mannered pushover. I would have been raised in this house, would have had unlimited access to chocolate and would have probably hated it before starting Hogwarts. Or, on the contrary, I could have grown up to be good-natured butterball like Longbottom and to my grandfather’s horror would have ended up in Hufflepuff.”
“It is a good thing it did not happen.”
“How so?” Severus snorted.
“Where would have I found a friend with such a foul temper otherwise?” Lucius asked in the most flippant tone and changed the topic before Severus could even blink. “So, where are we going to hide it?”
“Hide what?” his friend asked absentmindedly. It seemed that memories of his bleak childhood suddenly made him sentimental. Go figure.
“It,” Lucius replied dryly.
“Ah,” Severus answered, still looking distracted. “Right here. Why do you think I brought you to this house?”
“I understand that,” Lucius said impatiently. “But where exactly?”
“Anywhere,” Severus snorted. “Look around. Just look.”
“Where does a wise man hide a leaf?” he murmured.
“Exactly. By the way, they are real if you have wondered.”
“Who?” Now, Lucius completely lost the track of the conversation.
“Well, the boxes and the tin cans are adorned with magical illusions, of course. Only a complete idiot would have glued something solid there. Grandfather went, of course, totally mad about all this false Eastern bling, but he was still sensible in business matters. Children put everything into their mouths — whether they are three or thirteen. So, nothing that could be accidentally choked on. The interior of this room, though… it verges on a literal madness, of course, but everything is genuine here.”
Lucius stared at the monstrous ruby on the cobra’s head and blinked.
“Is this one genuine, too?” he asked hesitantly. “Why then are you…”
“Why then I what?” Severus looked at him quizzically.
“Why are you…” Lucius faltered, glancing sideways on decent, but surely not top quality and rather worn robes of his friend. He did not know if there was a polite way of asking, ‘Then why are you so poor?’
Severus looked at him oddly for several seconds, then burst into laughter, sliding down into the welcoming embrace of the sofa.
“No,” he managed to say between fits of laughter. “These are not jewels, Luc… You are unbelievable. These are candies.”
* * *
There was a pause. Three new words appeared after the first one.
‘W… H… O… A… R… E… Y… O… U?’
Draco watched the horrible message appear as if hypnotized, quietly hoping that it was the product of his imagination and the letters would disappear right now like everything he had wrote, scribbled and drew before in the mysterious notebook.
Was the blasted thing somehow… alive?
No, of course not, what an idiotic thought. After all, any decent wizard could charm a magical object so that it would react in a certain way to certain actions. If one could charm a kettle so it stopped heating when one shouted at it or charm a child’s broom to obey to basic commands, then charming a notebook to answer simple questions was easier than cutting flobberworms.
The question was, whatever for one would do that.
Also, why would someone in the Malfoy household hide this thing so elaborately and purposely without using magic, too. Was it Lucius? Or, maybe, even Abraxas?
Draco felt even more uneasy at the thought. Judging by his father’s curt comments and careful lectures on family history, his grandfather was quite an unpleasant and definitely not a kind man. It was unlikely that he had hid in the manor something cute and entertaining on a lark.
Draco stared again at his suspicious find. What should he do now? Should he confess everything to his parents, making a complete fool out of himself? No, it was the last resort. If there was no other choice left, he would confess, of course, but he was going to try his best to avoid it. The most sensible thing to do was to return the notebook to its hiding hole in that old book, and later to ‘find’ it again, preferably with witnesses, in order to puzzle it out. He realized, though, looking at the clock, that it now was pointless to try it: if Narcissa, Harry and Constance would not return any minute, then Lucius and Severus would. It meant that the notebook should be hidden somewhere else. Where to put it?
Quashing panic, he looked around, searching for a place that no one would use at least for several days. It would be better, of course, to hide it in the similar fashion… There!
Suppressing the wish to run to the laboratory and fetch dragon skin gloves, Draco gritted his teeth, bravely picked up the horrendous artifact, snapped it shut and with a deliberate carelessness shoved it into the stack of Muggle books on the very top shelf. The ones that cousin Dudley gave Harry and him as Christmas presents. It was unlikely that Harry would need them any time soon: he finished reading them again only a month ago. A Muggle-looking notebook would fit right in among Muggle books.
After disposing of the evidence, Draco took his broom and went outside, whistling. He was ready to unwind a little and wanted to be able to answer truthfully what he was doing on such a sunny day if anyone asked. So, he did not only spend his time in the library, but also flew to his heart’s content.
Ulisse Aldrovandi (or Aldrovandus, 1522—1605) — an Italian Renaissance-era scientist, humanist, doctor, natural scientist, botanist, entomologist and zoologist. He founded the botanical gardens in Bologna — one of the earliest in Europe. His Natural History of Snakes and Dragons (Serpentum, et draconum historiae) was published in Bologna in 1640.
Author’s note: yes, I know that the description of the Tom Riddle’s diary is not quite consistent with what Harry and Ron saw in the HP&CS when they found the diary in the Moaning Myrtle’s toilet. That’s not a mistake. Just wait and see!